Monday, February 4, 2013

Revisiting Saro-Wiwa's Nigerian dream

Shell take responsibility

Today I sat and thought about journalism in Nigeria. How corruption at all levels of political and administrative measures has severed any class action against petroleum companies in Nigeria.

On 10 November 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian poet and writer (like myself) from the 80s was hanged following  the fight for the survival of the 20 million people who inhabit the Niger Delta region.

In particular, Saro-Wiwa was pointing against Shell, which he held responsible for the death of his people, the Ogoni, and the destruction of the environment through the extraction of oil.

Accused of being the instigator of the killing of four militants Mosop, Saro-Wiwa was processed by a special tribunal, established in 1994 by General Sani Abacha, and sentenced to death by hanging.

On 31 October 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa gave his last speech following the death penalty:

"Horrified by the humiliating poverty of my people, who also lives in a land rich in anguish of his political marginalization and economic strangulation, outraged by the devastation of its territory (...) I have invested my intellectual and material resources, all my life in a cause in which I believe blindly and for which I can not accept intimidation and blackmail (...) nor imprisonment, nor death can stop us to succeed. (...) I am convinced that very soon Shell will be called to account for the ecological warfare began in the Niger Delta ".

Eighteen years later, the people of Niger Delta get their first victory of the "ecological warfare" at the cost of Ken Saro-Wiwa and thousands of lives.

On 30 January, a Dutch court ruled against the oil giant Shell, recognizing its responsibilities in pollution of the Niger Delta where about 2 million barrels of crude oil is extracted everyday.

The court ordered Shell Nigeria to pay damages related to oil spill which took place between 2006 and 2007 near the village of Ikot Ada Udo, while four criminal counts against the parent company Anglo -Dutch was thrown away.
This is the first time that Shell has been ordered by the court to pay compensation for damage," said Geert Ritsema of Friends of the Earth

A partial victory for Nigerians but how can we stop the damages from these giant companies?
The Nigerian 1984 law states that 'a parent company has no obligation, in principle, to prevent harm to others bear its affiliates abroad. "

Judges at the Federal High Court of Nigeria, are forwarded compensations of more than 66 million euro from the oil companies per quarter while the natives suffer.

Today I sat and thought. Not that I do not sit and think often, but I could not do much else, but sit and think.

Lets think together fellow Nigerians. Please, leave a comment!


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